UNITED NATIONS — The African Union's special envoy on the Lord's Resistance Army says despite some progress in weakening the roving rebel group's operations, it remains extremely dangerous. Speaking Friday, Francisco Madeira urged the U.N. Security Council to designate the LRA as a terrorist organization.
AU Envoy Madeira told the 15-nation Security Council that successive military operations have largely disabled the LRA's command and control, but the capability of the rebels to commit atrocities against civilians remains undiminished.
He urged the Security Council to add the group to its designated list of terror organizations, saying the AU had done so last year.
“Mr. President, I take this opportunity to formally request the U.N. Security Council, through you your excellency, to consider the request of the AU Peace and Security Council and declare the LRA a terrorist organization,” Madeira said.
The LRA was formed in northern Uganda during the late 1980s and is led by Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court. His fighters, who sought the overthrow of Uganda's government, became known for their horrific crimes against civilians, including rapes, torture, maiming, murders and recruiting child soldiers.
By 2004, the LRA had largely been driven out of the country, moving its activities into neighboring states, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
A recent U.N. report said the group continues to attack villages and both abduct and recruit children for use as child soldiers and sex slaves, mostly in the DRC.
In March, the United Nations and the African Union launched the U.N.-supported and AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA with the goal of ending the LRA’s activities. The military component of the mission, the RTF, is made up of 5,000 soldiers drawn from the four countries affected by the LRA - Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan.
AU Envoy Madeira said the initiative is hampered by a lack of resources and urgently needs more international support.
“The operational units require concrete support in terms of appropriate training, harmonized communications systems, food rations, medical support, air and ground mobility, munitions, fuel and lubricants, among other things, to enable them to undertake robust military operations against the LRA so as to induce defections, surrender, capture of LRA combatants as well as the rescue of LRA abductees,” Madeira said.
Madeira said help from international partners, including the United States, has helped put sustained pressure on the group, keeping the rebels constantly on the run. He said such operations contributed to the recent capture of Caesar Acellam, a high-ranking member of the LRA command, and the killing of several other LRA combatants.
The LRA is currently believed to consist of between 200 and 500 fighters.